4 years, 8 months ago
The tactical brother of the highly strategic Field Manual FM 3-24 has been released, entitled Tactics in Counterinsurgency, FM 3-24.2. There are certain Milblogs that are known as the beer drinkers in the outer room, raucous and loud. You know who they are. Then there are the more sophisticated guys smoking cigars and drinking Bourbon in a more secluded room. The Captain’s Journal likes to think of itself in the later category. From time to time the loud boys break into the back room and want to throw down, and we can do that too. But soon enough we go back to our high brow thoughts and pedantic ways while we draw on a Macanudo.
But our grunt ties come through all of the time, truth be told. We just can’t hide it. That’s why we are more of a logistics, weapons and tactics blog rather than a strategy blog, and we secretly break into the outer room to throw down with the boys from time to time. And so FM 3-24.2 interests us much more than its predecessor, all things being equal.
There will be many opportunities to mine the depths of this magnificent document, and so don’t hold it against us that we start with a seeming random bit of detail. Satellite patrols.
The field manual says (page 166, Section 5-216):
All units must know the overall route and if possible, left and right boundaries. Both the base unit and the satellite units move in ways to confuse the enemy as to the patrol’s actual axis of advance. Standard movement techniques are still used. Satellites move away from the base unit for limited periods of time to inspect potential ambush sites, dead spaces, parallel roads, or other assigned missions. The time that the satellite is separated from the base unit should be prescribed by the patrol leader prior to departure.
It’s a wonderful and effective tactic, the notion of smaller units connected to the larger unit patrolling in diagonal, circular and perpendicular patterns to the main unit, all with the intention of providing force protection for not only the larger unit but itself and the other smaller units as well by confusing the enemy as to the axis of advance.
I have long known about this tactic, as well as some of the finer details not shown or discussed here, but been reluctant to discuss it over the blog since it was unknown whether this should be considered FOUO, OPSEC or something that otherwise shouldn’t be divulged to the enemy.
Think I’m paranoid? In Marines, Taliban, Tactics Techniques and Procedures, using a Powerpoint presentation I obtained from Michael Yon, I outlined a number of lessons learned from Marine Recon battling the Taliban in highly conventional fights recently in Afghanistan with close to Battalion-sized units of enemy, from their understanding of the use of combined arms, to interlocking fields of fire, to fire discipline, massing forces and other problematic issues stemming from the fact that the Taliban are more skilled than the insurgents in Iraq. The presentation also had a discussion of Marine tactics to counter the Taliban, some of which had been highly successful.
No sooner did this post go up than I received a note from the Marine officer in Afghanistan (a Small Wars Council member as am I) who authored the presentation. This officer complained about the release of the document and its presence on this web site, saying that not all Taliban are as skilled as these were and the presence of the presentation on this web site could lead to the education of other Taliban.
Sure, if they had access to electricity, a laptop, Powerpoint and the time to read it, along with a total absence of communication with their colleagues to teach them about these tactics. Not likely. But the officer hung his hat on the fact that the document was FOUO, which in reality means that whomever released it in Afghanistan should have been the target of this officer’s complaint, not me. The term FOUO means nothing to me, since I am the official owner and founder of this web site.
So what do the readers think? What about revealing the tactics of the Taliban and our counter-tactics, and satellite patrols as applied in urban areas? Problematic, or not?